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There Are Moments That The Words Don’t Reach


Dear friends – You may have noticed that the blog has been silent for quite awhile. I wish it were for happy reasons – no time for reading or writing because of our move and the excitement of my new job – but that’s not the case.

Nate Hebert, often known as “the boyfriend” here on the blog, passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, Aug. 14 at our home. He was 35 years old.

I won’t share the details of how he died here, in part because the police are still investigating and in part because he was a private person who wouldn’t have wanted me to do that – there’s a reason he didn’t come up often when I was writing here. Suffice it to say that I know in my heart his death was an accident.

Nate and I were together for nearly eight years, just slightly less time than this blog has been around. Our first date involved watching the 2008 election returns, then going out for a drink on State Street in Madison, Wisconsin to watch the students celebrate. Our relationship wasn’t perfect, but I loved him and respected his intelligence, curiosity, and commitment to building our life together. I was so proud when he showed persistence to get his most recent job as a welder, and so excited when it became clear that welding was among his many unexpected talents. He will be missed so very much.

I took the picture at the top of this post on Saturday, Aug. 13, the day before he died, because I thought the sky was beautiful. In taking it, I inadvertently captured one of the last moments when my life seemed to make sense.

There have been so many surreal things about this experience, moments where I catch my breath at something that reminds me of Nate or I get pulled into the minutiae of setting up memorials and memorial funds and I can’t believe this is life right now.

I wonder, in those moments, if I will ever get to feel normal again. I wonder if I will be able to be a person who doesn’t cry every day out of sadness of having lost, so suddenly, someone I loved so much; out of anger for having our plans fall apart so spectacularly; or out of fear that I am somehow damaged beyond repair by a trauma I don’t have the words to explain.

For the moment, I am living back home with my parents, commuting about an hour to my new job and trying to wrap my head around what comes next. I don’t want to let this space disappear – Nate was so supportive and excited about everything that blogging brought to my life – but at the moment I can’t see through to a time when writing about books and reading and life will make any sense. So for now, consider this blog on hiatus while I try to find my way through the long, hard process of grieving.

I waited a long time to post about Nate’s death here because it’s been hard, almost impossible, for me to broadcast this awful thing out into the world and accept the kindness that has come my way in response. He was so young and so loved and I am brokenhearted that he is gone. But I am also so lucky to have such a wide-ranging community of friends in person and online to help share the burden of his passing and celebrate the joy of his life.

Your good thoughts and prayers and caring words are appreciated more than I can say, even if, for the moment, I don’t have the emotional capacity to reach back and say thank you.

With sorrow and love, Kim

nate and kim


Genre Kryptonite: Adding X-Men to Anything

Genre Kryptonite X-Men

I try to be a savvy reader who isn’t tricked into picking up books based simply on marketing copy. Sorry, book PR people, but I don’t let your schemes work on me… except when the blurbs or cover copy describe a book as “X-Men plus…” just about anything. I will pick up a book where normal people have some sort of mutant power almost without question, and I will likely love it unreservedly.

I wrote about a few of my favorite X-Men spiked titles over at Book Riot — I hope you’ll check it out!

P.S. And for those who are curious, I’m working on a recap of our Portland adventures to go up sometime next week. It was such a stellar trip, and I’m already working on the list of sites we didn’t get to visit on this vacation.


july 2016 reading wrap up

After a very slumpy month of reading in June, it seems like my energy came back this month. Thanks to the Fourth of July weekend and a mini-readathon a couple weeks ago, I managed to finish seven books this month and, in an exciting twist, I even managed to review four of them, like an actual book blogger!

Here’s what I finished in July:

  1. Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam (fiction)
  2. The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood (fiction)
  3. You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein (essays)
  4. Something New by Lucy Knisley (memoir)
  5. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (fiction)
  6. The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore (memoir)
  7. In the Country We Love by Diane Gurrero (memoir)

On the whole, the month was pretty excellent when it comes to reading choices. I like the mix of fiction and nonfiction, and the books touched on a lot of my favorite topics — it’s tough to pick top reads for the month.

A Look to August 

With our move coming up in just a couple of weeks, I can honestly say I have no idea what my August reading might look like. I am hoping to finish For Love of Politics by Sally Bedell Smith, a look at Bill and Hillary Clinton’s time in the White House, before we go, since I need to return it to the library!

The other work of nonfiction I’m looking forward to this month is Riverine by Angela Palm (Aug. 16 from Graywolf Press), the most recent winner of the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize. Past winners of this prize have included two books I loved — Leaving Orbit by Margaret Lazarus Dean and The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison. Needless to say, I’ve got high hopes for Riverine. Happy reading!

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links through Amazon. If you make a purchase through any of those links, I will receive a small commission.

Currently | Leavin’ On a Jet Plane

currently aug 1 2016

Briefly | It’s vacation week! Amidst all of the packing and preparing and planning for a move later this month, my family’s six day trip to Portland, Oregon for my cousin’s wedding sort of snuck up on me. I think this will be the longest trip I’ve taken with my entire family since high school, which should be interesting for everyone.

Reading | My reading this week has been pretty sporadic, thanks in part to the late evenings I spent watching the Democratic National Convention. Watching Bill and Hillary Clinton made me curious to understand more about their relationship, so I headed to my local library and picked up For Love of Politics by Sally Bedell Smith, a biography of their years in the White House. Smith wrote a wonderful biography of Queen Elizabeth, and so far this one has been quite interesting too.  

Watching | The boyfriend and I went to see Ghostbusters last night — I thought it was a lot of fun. It wasn’t my favorite of the Melissa McCarthy/Kristen Wiig/Paul Fieg comedies, but it was awfully nice to watch an action comedy that didn’t objectify or demean women in any way.

Blogging | I am not doing super great on Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge for this year, but I appreciated the recommendations you all left for books to fill in my (many) remaining tasks.

Loving | I’ve been making basic overnight oats for breakfast for the last week, and I’m pretty much sold on them as a great summer breakfast option. The basic recipe — Greek yogurt, oats, milk, chia seeds, vanilla, and honey — is even better with fruit mixed in. I’d love your best suggestions for other recipes.

Hating | My car got rear ended earlier this month when I was in the Twin Cities, and getting it resolved is taking much longer than it feels like it should. There’s no major damage, and no dispute over responsibility, so it could be much worse… I’m just getting impatient.

Anticipating | Vacation! In addition to my cousin’s wedding reception, we’ve got lots of other activities planned. Personally, I am most psyched about a pilgrimage to the Powell’s flagship store on Thursday. Awesome!

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links through Amazon. If you make a purchase through any of those links, I will receive a small commission.

book riotLast week, in a bit of packing-related procrastination, I decided to check in on how I was doing with Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge. Last year, I managed to finish 19 of the 24 tasks, which I thought was pretty good. Unfortunately, I’m not doing as well on the challenge this year. After seven months, I’ve only finished eight of the 24 tasks!

Here are the tasks, with the ones I’ve manged to complete so far in bold:

  1. Read a horror book –
  2. Read a nonfiction book about science –
  3. Read a collection of essays – You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein
  4. Read a book out loud to someone else –
  5. Read a middle grade novel –
  6. Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography) – HRC by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes
  7. Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel – The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood
  8. Read a book originally published in the decade you were born –
  9. Listen to an audio book that has won an Audie Award –
  10. Read a book over 500 pages long – Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley
  11. Read a book under 100 pages – Ongoingness by Sarah Manguso
  12. Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender –
  13. Read a book that is set in the Middle East –
  14. Read a book that is by an author from Southeast Asia –
  15. Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900 – The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
  16. Read the first book in a series by a person of color –
  17. Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years –
  18. Read a book that was adapted into a movie then watch the movie –
  19. Read a nonfiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes – Something New by Lucy Knisley
  20. Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction) –
  21. Read a book about politics in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction) – Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge
  22. Read a food memoir –
  23. Read a play –
  24. Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness –

Given everything going on in the next few months, I’m not sure that I will get to really focus on this particular reading goal for the year. But I’m ok with that too. Either way, I’d love some of your suggestions for books that meet some of my unfinished tasks for the year!